The Quiet Beauty Of Lüderitz, Namibia

A road to nowhere?

Wisps of sand dance over the road as the desolation and nothingness increase.

The 112km from Aus to Lüderitz on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia is a pencil-straight tar road. A dark grey line cutting through the sands of the Namib Desert, the road runs parallel to the railway line towards the grey sea of Lüderitz Bay.

Here and there clumps of tents along the railway line hint at human habitation; workers’ temporary dwellings make an an almost futile attempt to keep the railway line from being engulfed by the sandy ocean.

Lüderitz is built on rock, but its foundation is diamonds.

The light

Cloudy, mists, skies filled with dust. Lüderitz lies wedged between a hospitable desert and an icy ocean in the south of Namibia. Exposed and at the mercy of the elements, the town often sees thick clouds of mist rolling in from the sea. Rainfalls are few and far between, but eery clouds block the sun to create patches of shadows on the earth. Sand clouds from the desert paint spectacular sunsets as the dust particles create blood red flaming suns dropping into an ink-black sea.

Shark Island

The quiet town hides some gruesome secrets even most Namibians do not know about. Shark Island near the harbour was once a concentration camp where Herero and Nama prisoners of war were kept. Exposed to icy winds and scorching summers, prisoners who died were hacked into pieces and fed to the sharks. Charming. The island is now a camping site and makes a good viewpoint over the town.


Influenced by German colonizers, diamond money and tourism, the town is an eclectic mix of styles. Colonial houses, some touches of Art Nouveau and a bit of Bavarian style – houses are built on and between huge rocks. There is much to discover, stroll the gravel streets, climb a rock to peek into a back yard, take photos of brightly painted doors and visit mansions-now-museums. A church on a high rock overlooking the ocean. Tudor-style houses painted in bright colors. A garish yellow modern hotel. Prefabricated mining houses, flat roof staff housing quarters.

Lüderitz Speed Challenge

Windsurfers and kite surfers from over the world compete each year to set new sailing speed records. The Challenge takes place on a man-made channel created in the desert where winds of between 70 and 95km/h blow at a perfect angle. The next challenge takes place from 6 October to 2 November 2014.


‘On moonlit nights, you could see diamonds sparkle on the surface of the desert sand.’ It was this type of rumor that made people rush to Lüderitz after diamonds were discovered here in 1909. Kolmanskop, just 10km from Lüderitz is one of the towns that was built during the rush and was soon one of the prosperous in the world. Now it lays abandoned, derelict mansions slowly disappearing under the desert sands. An extremely photogenic daytrip, Kolmanskop is a must visit, not only for the photogenic nature of the ruined town, but also for the interesting guided tours presented.

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